Having Lupus does not mean being a victim! Because Lupus is only one thing in an otherwise amazing life, it does not need to define us. In the government law office where I work, we have a professional victim advocate who helps crime victims asset their rights through criminal court case against the person who hurt them. One thing common to most victims is that they view themselves as victims, and often perceive themselves as powerless against the victimizer.
By looking at several aspects of lupus, this series will attempt to offer some ideas that may help with the effort to move away from a victim mentality, and toward a more positive perspective. There is no question we cannot choose to have Lupus, but in some ways, we might even find some reasons to see some positives associated with Lupus!
First, consider the idea that becoming a victim is at least, in part, a matter of mindset and even a choice.
Despite the Lupus Diagnosis – an Overly Defensive Immune System
However at ease we become with the fact of our Lupus diagnosis, it remains an unwelcome companion traveling along with us in our life adventure. Does that mean I should view myself as a victim? No way! There is a better way to view Lupus.
One afternoon, while sharing the podium and waiting to speak at a Lupus Foundation of America patient symposium, one of the world’s leading medical experts on lupus explained something very profound. Her explanation provided a radically new perspective on Lupus. A few minutes later, she explained the same concept to the room full of people.
She went on to explain that immune systems can adapt and attack new and changing pathogens. This is a testament to the fact that some people will always have auto immunity. This capacity of the body to create antibodies against itself comes from the same aspect of our autoimmune system that can fight off new variants of viruses and bacteria.
Without the human body’s ability to develop new immune defenses, the human race would become extinct. We owe our continued existence as a species to the fact that our immune systems, with their imperfections, can respond to either defend us against new threats, or unfortunately, become confused and try to overly defend us against our own cells mistakenly identified as threats.
This over-defensive response results in a wide array of auto-immune conditions, including Lupus. She explained that this new information helped researchers understand why a certain segment of the population will certainly develop auto-immune responses.
After hearing this explanation, my view on the “why” of lupus radically changed. Lupus is not really attacking me, Lupus is really my flawed immune system working overtime defending me against an imagined threat. It is demonstrating what friend of mine describes as “being exceedingly helpful” to a fault.
It seems that every lupus patient is actually a living testament to the kindness and protective grace of God. Because imperfect humans have dynamic changing immune systems, the human race is kept alive. If not for this ability, each newly mutated germ could wipe out millions of people. But, due to the same immune processes that cause Lupus, the human race continues to fight new germs and virus mutations as they arise, and therefore survives.
So, instead of seeing myself as a victim of Lupus, I see myself as overprotected by a misdirected, well-meaning immune system. With Lupus and its known negatives, we still have defense against the microscopic threats that would otherwise kill us off. So, accepting the downside of Lupus goes along with accepting the upside of a flawed, overactive, but still amazingly effective immune system.
By remembering that 99.9% of my body works properly, it is possible to choose to rejoice about everything else that still works, while acknowledging and accepting the imperfections of having Lupus.